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it's all about the art of storytelling


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Rhythm Editor

I have recently worked on a project that require me to make NO cuts at all. The director and myself was searching for the right word to credit me, in the end we decide to choose the word

– RHYTHM EDITOR

Indeed, my job evolve into modifying the rhythm in an experimental short film that play with words – REMEMBER by Tan Pin Pin

Using visual thesaurus, the entire video is a one take choreography of word play. Pin opens up the possibilities of words trail with the word remember.

This seems to be an easy job, however, it turns out to be not such a breeze. We end up having multiples “rehearses” before recording the word dance and working on uncountable number of “takes”.

For me, it is the first editing job that really engage my little experience in dance choreography. When I view the “performance” I was constantly giving suggestions on how we can make each word appear with more interesting rhythm. In dance choreography, especially improvisational dance choreography,  audience may not see a clear development to a define story.
“Although there is no single approach to creating a dance that has a clear sense of development, certain characteristics are common to many effective pieces of choreography. Those qualities are unity, continuity, transition, variety, and repetition.” Sandra Cerny Minton share this effectively in her article – How to make choreography more effective

I had attended dance choreography class with Ecnad, there is one thing that I learned in my dance class that I get a chance to apply here. It is call – PHRASING. Yes, there are phrases in dances too!

I was suggesting different phrases in this short film by manipulating the time and space of opening the words. We were conscious of changing the rhythm of how this piece of work developed over a short period of 6mins and 22secs.

If you are curious about contemporary dance after reading this post. This video speaks about the vocabulary of movements and body intelligence.

To get a quick understanding about dance phrases, this video below is good to watch.

REMEMBER is a commission work by Singapore National Library BoardSingapore Memory.

Pin Pin also made another short film, Yangtze Scribbler under the same programme. Which is also edited by me.

“All the characteristics of effective choreography—unity, continuity, transition, variety, and repetition—are organized to contribute to the development of a meaningful whole. All phrases in a work should be designed to form the integrated sections of your dance, and all the sections of the dance should be placed in a sequence that moves toward an appropriate conclusion. The development of a work should lead the audience logically from the beginning through the middle and on to the end of the dance.” – Sandra Cerny Minton.

I believe strongly that DANCE and EDITING are interconnected.

I am extremely fortunate to be given two opportunities to marry dance and film in my own work : U_R_NOT_ME and PRIMAL FEAR.

PRIMAL FEAR will be screening on 2 June 2012 with Singapore Arts Festival 2012.


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Silence (John Cage)

It’s the new year.

I presume most people had a blast or was indulged in some kind of celebration for the past weeks. Music and sound are inevitable companion when we celebrate. Music and sound are also inevitable in filmmaking or video making. I remembered a senior filmmaker friend once told me this: “without sound, you don’t have half of the film”. I quote this in almost every of the editing class that I had conducted.

Today, I will like to talk about a musician. He is not particularly known in the filmmaking arena. He is an avant garde musician – John Cage.

John Cage is also a well know music theorist. I find his take on sound, especially silence, is one fascinating theory with so much possibilities. And that is definitely one of the essence about the art of editing – looking for possibilities.

John Cage becomes a centenarian in 2012.

You can watch him talks about silence

And watch his most celebrated performance title 4’33”

After all these viewing, you can continue to read his fascinating autobiography (its a thesis!)


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Vertical Cinema (Maya Deren)

Maya Deren is most well regard for the avant garde films (with a strong sense of movement) she made in the 1940s and 1950s. She is recognized to be one of the pioneer in dance films. Undeniably, her films show a clear desire to tell stories through moves. I have become a fan quickly the first time I watched her first film Meshes of the Afternoon. Editing of Meshes is one that showcase an editor who understands rhythm innately. The original film was edited without sound. It was a silent film made by Maya and her first husband Alexander Hammid . Many years later, a score was created by Maya’s third husband, Teiji Ito. The clever use of juxtaposition between different shots create a magical world without using any special effects. A truly brilliant edit. Both sound and visual.

So what is vertical cinema?

Maya was also a film theorist. There was a record of an extensive discourse about Poetry and the Film: A Symposium (1953) between Maya and few other renounced artist, one of them is Arthur Miller. Here, she spoke about her theory on vertical cinema.  “The distinction of poetry is its construction (what I mean by “a poetic structure”), and the poetic construct arises from the fact, if you will, that it is a “vertical” investigation of a situation, in that it probes the ramifications of the moment, and is concerned with its qualities and its depth, so that you have poetry concerned in a sense not with what is occuring, but with what it feels like or what it means.” 

Many contemporary filmmakers and artist are influenced by Maya’s style. Barbara Hammer (an experimental filmmaker) speaks about how she adopt maya’s vertical cinema in her work.

Recently, a student ask a question about the rules and regulations for cutting a rhythmic video. The best answer can be taken from Maya’s quote: ” Whatever the technique, it must serve the form as a whole, it must be appropriate to the theme and to the logic of its development, rather than display of method designed to impress other movie makers.”

You can read about Maya’s film theory from her book.